An idea has been floated by Republican leaders to pass a resolution that would fundamentally alter the impeachment record of President Donald Trump.
The means that would be used to bring about the auspicious outcome is a legislative approach commonly known as expungement. When finalized, the “impeached” label would be amended in the record books, as would the “forever” characterization attached to it by the House Speaker.
More than merely a sound idea, expungement is a necessary one because of the fatally flawed process that the House of Representatives used to pursue the impeachment of the president in the first place.
The impeachment inquiry began without a vote. The hearings featured secret witness “auditions.” The evidence produced was largely inadmissible hearsay and opinion. And rules that were imposed during the process prevented the accused from mounting a defense.
The above mentioned, as well as other defects in due process, make it imperative for the GOP to re-take the House of Representatives and for the new leaders to expunge the impeachment of the president, which will thereby restore integrity to the record.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is on record as being in support of this concept.
“This is the fastest, weakest, most political impeachment in history,” McCarthy told the New York Post. “I don’t think it should stay on the books.”
In addition to McCarthy, influential GOP members of the House, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep Lee Zeldin, (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), have all voiced approval of the idea.
So has President Trump. When asked by a reporter whether he believed the House should expunge his impeachment from the congressional record, the president responded, “They should because it was a hoax. It was a total political hoax.”
Expungement of a presidential impeachment remains the subject of debate by legal scholars. In my personal legal opinion, though, it clearly can be done.
If we take a look back at the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, we see where the precedent for an expungement was set
In 1832 President Jackson, a Democrat, ran for re-election. His opponent was National Republican Party candidate Henry Clay. Jackson won.
However, Clay’s party took control of the Senate. Under Clay’s leadership, the Senate demanded the delivery of documents from the Jackson cabinet related to a dispute over a presidential veto. After President Jackson refused to release the documents, Clay introduced a resolution to censure him, and after weeks of debate the resolution was passed.
Then in 1837 the Democrats regained the majority in the Senate. They proceeded to have President Jackson’s censure expunged from the record.
If a federal legislative body has the power to expunge a resolution that censures the president, I contend that it likewise has the ability to expunge an impeachment.
Some cable news experts have argued that if the House could expunge an impeachment, it would have done so with President Bill Clinton. Interestingly, this is precisely what Democrats tried to do.
The year was 2010. A dozen years had passed since the impeachment of President Clinton had taken place for misconduct relating to an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) introduced legislation to expunge the Clinton impeachment. He was unsuccessful in his effort, and later he himself wound up in prison for bribery, money laundering, and fraud.
A Republican House can and should work to expunge from the record the impeachment of President Trump. A GOP-controlled House would not be bound by an impeachment resolution passed by a previous House.
Although it is unlikely that some of the more vocal opponents would be silenced, an investigation by a GOP-controlled House may have an effect on the way in which history would be interpreted.
House Republicans plan to investigate lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and/or his staff’s potential connections to the so-called whistleblower. There is an origin story to the manner in which the whistleblower’s information came to light and the reason why it conflicted with the actual transcript of the president’s telephone call.
The withholding of the 179-page transcript of testimony given by the eighteenth witness, a.k.a., the inspector general of the intelligence community, will be one of the first documents a future Republican House will want to see.
Supporters of President Trump and many independent voters observed how the House hearings were conducted and largely concluded that the impeachment process was unfair to the president.
Increasing public awareness of the potentiality for an expungement will have a ripple effect in the political world and may ultimately boost an already high GOP enthusiasm level, which will assist Republicans in flipping the 18 seats needed to regain control of the House.
Expungement just may be right around the 2020 corner.